The city of Santa Fe is poised to receive about $5 million from the state Legislature for several capital projects, including $1 million to address infrastructure needs at the fading midtown campus.
Public Works Director Regina Wheeler said the city intends to spend the funds, if they are approved by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, improving roads and pedestrian facilities at the 64-acre former college campus.
Wheeler also said the city might replace some of the gas lines on the property and noted some buildings at the site need to be demolished.
Infrastructure concerns topped the list of reasons the former master developer of the property, KDC Real Estate Development & Investments/Cienda Partners, asked the city in January to agree to a mutual termination of its exclusive negotiation agreement.
In a letter to Mayor Alan Webber and the City Council, the Dallas-based firm suggested multiple midtown campus buildings were deteriorating and would need to be razed.
KDC/Cienda said infrastructure at the site was “incomplete” and “obsolete” and would require $30 million to replace.
The firm also noted economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Wheeler said the main goal is to address issues at the midtown property that would aid in the first phase of a massive redevelopment.
“We’re going to, of course, get governing body approval and guidance,” Wheeler said. “They are leading us through the midtown project.”
The funding relies on the governor signing House Bill 285, which includes about $518 million for capital projects across New Mexico’s 33 counties.
State projects received the most at $111 million.
It’s not a slam dunk.
In March 2020, Lujan Grisham vetoed $110 million in capital outlay projects approved by lawmakers, rerouting the funding to state reserves due to concerns about the possibility of a drop in state revenue from the effects of the pandemic and fluctuating oil prices.
“It’s never done until it’s done,” Wheeler said.
The 17,000-square-foot Southside Teen Center would receive the lion’s share of the city’s potential funding at $1.8 million. In late February, the state released $3.9 million approved last year for the project. Lawmakers kicked in an addition $1.8 million in the latest bill.
The project will rise across the street from the Southside Branch Library and will provide a gym, arts spaces, a dance area and outdoor recreation space. A groundbreaking is expected in fall, with an opening planned in late 2022.
Parks in general would receive $1 million.
Wheeler said the city is still discussing how to use the funds, but it plans to spend around $300,000 on resurfacing tennis courts across the city and expanding a few to accommodate pickleball players.
Wheeler said the city intends to create its first pickleball courts at the Fort Marcy Recreation Complex this summer.
“They play it on the tennis courts, but the lines are a little different,” Wheeler said. “It’s all the rage. We hear about it constantly.”
In addition, Wheeler said the city intends to invest in irrigation upgrades at various parks.
“Water is a big deal right now,” Wheeler said. “The drought year really showed how close to the edge we really are.”
The city intends to spend $1.23 million on infrastructure improvements at heavily trafficked pedestrian areas.
According to the bill, the city plans to spend $300,000 on a trail at Tierra Contenta and $275,000 on improvements to Paseo de las Vistas.
Pedestrian, drainage and bicycle infrastructure upgrades along St. Michael’s Drive, Siringo Road and Governor Miles Road would receive $650,000 between the two projects.